Thank you to all who have served and sacrificed for America when called upon. Thanks most of all to my Dad, who never found a single thing to like about war and in fact always abhorred it . . . but signed his draft card, left the relative peace of his home in Ohio for the chaos and privation of Vietnam, and did his duty proudly, excellently, and honorably. His is the story of many veterans . . . the story of setting aside one’s own priorities and beliefs and doing what the nation requires.
We sometimes find that the wars we felt bound to support — and the horrific consequences they created — were not necessary, clearly justified, or their validity faithfully communicated. This can be an emotionally catastrophic realization. In our time, our country has surrendered too easily to the seductive notion that military force and logistical might can solve every problem . . . and has too often capitalized on the can-do spirit and unselfishness of its people to make war where it ought not have been made, or to extend war where it ought to have been decided and concluded. This is a concerning development for many reasons . . . not least of which the risk that people otherwise inclined to stand forward and assume the duty of defending America might be less inclined . . . and might feel well justified to question whether the cause they’re considering is just . . . whether it is in fact a duty or a matter of political convenience.
But if everyone were to have ceased in motion and energy for an endless analysis of the subjective rightness of things whenever, in our history, they felt ambivalence or doubt . . . the promise of what was bequeathed to us here would have long ago been extinguished. We should hope for less war in the future, and may we continue to be fortunate enough to have Americans always willing to find in the appeal to duty enough validity to stand forward . . . even if we have not always perfectly shepherded or even occasionally rendered misplaced the trust of those who came before.
On this day, save a thought . . . for those who saw it in their duty to endorse a check for up to and including the amount of life itself in order to defend their nation . . . and had that check cashed in the horrible fires of combat. These heroes often perished as they fought not so much to protect and preserve the high-minded ideals that led them to first put on the uniform . . . but to protect their beloved teammates who endured hardship and the darkest of human enmity along with them.
Most of all, keep the home fires burning for those who are still out there doing what we have asked of them halfway around the world, in places so inhospitable as to escape the imagination of most of us. We shouldn’t rest too easy until every last one of them is out of harm’s way and home, . . . where they belong.